Ron DeSantis bashes Trump and teases plans to ‘supersede’ Obamacare

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Ron DeSantis bashes Trump and teases plans to ‘supersede’ Obamacare

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he would replace Obamacare with a “better plan” — part of an interview in which he criticized former President Donald Trump for failing to deliver on numerous policy promises during his term in the White House, including frequent pledges to replace the health care law.

“Obamacare hasn’t worked,” DeSantis said in the interview with moderator Kristen Welker, which aired Sunday morning. “We are going to replace and supersede with a better plan.”

He declined to provide details about how his plan would “supersede” Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, adding that his campaign would most likely roll out a proposal in the spring.

DeSantis asserted that his plan would have “more transparency, more consumer choice, more affordable options, less red tape, less bureaucracy weighing everybody down.”

Trump said late last month that he was “seriously looking at alternatives” to Obamacare, prompting a sharp rebuke from President Joe Biden’s campaign.

“40 million people — more than 1 in 10 Americans — have health insurance today because of the Affordable Care Act and Donald Trump just said he would try to rip it away if he returns to power,” Biden campaign spokesperson Ammar Moussa has said in a statement.

In 2017, the Republican-controlled Senate failed to pass a bill to repeal Obamacare by a slim two-vote margin.

On Saturday, Democratic National Committee press secretary Sarafina Chitika blasted DeSantis’ recent criticisms of Obamacare, saying in a statement that “if Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump, and MAGA Republicans have their way, they’d send premiums skyrocketing to line the pockets of greedy health care executives and their wealthy buddies.”

DeSantis called out Trump for bringing up repealing Obamacare as a campaign pledge after having said he would do it in his first term, too.

“This is part of a pattern where he’s running on things that he didn’t do,” DeSantis said, mentioning the border wall and other issues. “Here’s what I will do. What I think they’re going to need to do is have a plan that will supersede Obamacare that will lower prices for people so that they can afford health care while also making sure that people with pre-existing conditions are protected.”

All in on Iowa

DeSantis was interviewed as he celebrated having held events in all 99 of Iowa’s counties, according to his campaign, while Trump has held events in only 13.

DeSantis trails Trump nationally by about 40 points, according to a November poll by NBC News. Fifty-eight percent of GOP primary voters selected Trump as their first pick in the survey, followed by DeSantis at 18%. A plurality of Republican primary voters — 36% — said DeSantis would be their second pick.

Pressed about whether he was committed to staying in the presidential race through the Iowa caucuses, DeSantis said it would be “absurd” that he would not remain, pointing out that previous candidates have won the Iowa caucuses but did not ultimately get their parties’ nominations.

DeSantis also drew a contrast between himself and Trump when he was asked about Trump’s campaigning on retribution and commenting about jailing political enemies.

“If he’s running for personal retribution, that is not going to lead to what we need as a country,” DeSantis said. “You got to be running for the American people and their issues, not about your own personal issues, and that is a distinction between us.”

DeSantis also pointed out that he would be eligible to serve two terms as president, in contrast to Trump, who has already served one term.

“Republican voters are going to have the choice of Donald Trump, which I think would make the election a referendum on him and a lot of the issues that he’s dealing with — or me, and that will be a referendum on Biden’s failures, on all the issues in the country that are affecting people, and I’ll be able to stand for a positive vision going forward,” he said. “We have a much better chance if we’re doing it with me as the candidate.”

DeSantis brushed off questions about a six-week federal abortion ban

Trump appointed three conservative justices to the Supreme Court, changing its political tilt. Last year, the court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that protected abortion rights nationwide.

After the decision, DeSantis signed a six-week abortion ban into law in Florida in April — a move that appears to be out of step with the majority of voters, according to polling. A June poll from NBC News found that about 61% of voters disapproved of the Supreme Court’s decision. More than half of respondents also said abortion access nationwide was too difficult.

Asked whether he would sign a six-week ban as president, DeSantis did not answer directly, saying, “Every state has a responsibility to have some limit.” But he also argued that Congress would not “do any type of abortion legislation,” rendering the question about what he would sign moot without explicitly saying he would not sign federal legislation.

“Florida has protections when there’s a heartbeat. Other states have done it differently,” he said. “This is something that’s going to be done in a bottom-up way. I recognize that.”

DeSantis faced off against California’s Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, in an approximately two-hour debate Thursday. Discussing the issue of abortion, DeSantis said he believes “in a culture of life,” though he did not specify whether he would support a national ban when Newsom asked him.

Megan Lebowitz

Megan Lebowitz is a politics reporter for NBC News.

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